PIL­BARA PEN­DU­LUM

Pilbara News - - Front Page - Francesca Mann

Months of cam­paign­ing are fi­nally over and the bat­tle for the Pil­bara seat has come down to two men whose pas­sion for this re­gion is laid bare for all to see. With the fi­nal re­sult still too close to call be­tween Bren­don Grylls and Kevin Michel at time of print, we sat down with both to talk about the cam­paign.

Na­tion­als in­cum­bent Vince Cata­nia has been re-elected in the Lower House seat of North West Cen­tral, promis­ing to keep Roy­al­ties for Re­gions run­ning.

Mr Cata­nia has held the seat since 2008, orig­i­nally elected as a La­bor Mem­ber of Par­lia­ment, but switch­ing to the Na­tion­als in 2009.

La­bor chal­lenger Shane Hill, who held the seat of Ger­ald­ton from 2001-2008, gave Mr Cata­nia a run for his money but lost through pref­er­ence dis­tri­bu­tion.

Mr Cata­nia leads 2982 (58.8 per­cent) to 2090 (41.2 per­cent) with 50.74 per cent of the votes counted.

With La­bor in Gov­ern­ment, Mr Cata­nia said his win was “bit­ter­sweet.” “I think the chal­lenge for us as the Na­tion­als party is to hold La­bor to ac­count,” he said. “They don’t have a track record for spend­ing and look­ing af­ter re­gional WA.

“We’ve had an amaz­ing eight years of de­liv­er­ing Roy­al­ties for Re­gions, and ev­ery com­mu­nity in my elec­torate has had great ben­e­fits from it.

“Our chal­lenge is to keep Roy­al­ties for Re­gions go­ing.”

Top of Mr Cata­nia’s pri­or­i­ties for North West Cen­tral was to en­sure La­bor keeps fund­ing for the Carnar­von Com­mu­nity Col­lege in the bud­get.

Mr Cata­nia said the Na­tion­als would also fight to keep fund­ing for aged care, the aged­care pen­sion fuel card, and fund­ing for the Royal Fly­ing Doc­tor Ser­vice.

Although Mr Hill hasn’t con­ceded the seat, he said he was “not con­fi­dent” he would win the elec­torate.

“It’s a big elec­torate and we did well with a small cam­paign team,” he said. “It was one we never ex­pected to win but I think the Na­tion­als have taken a bit of a toll.

“Peo­ple are de­mand­ing a bit more ac­tion from their MPs and I think that’s what we’ll find in North West Cen­tral; they’ll hold Vince ac­count­able and want him in the elec­torate more of­ten.”

Mr Hill re­turned to work on Mon­day, where he is the ex­ec­u­tive officer of Meenangu Wa­jarri Abo­rig­i­nal Cor­po­ra­tion. He said he would con­tinue to sup­port the La­bor party as a branch mem­ber but was pleased to re­turn home.

At 817,083sqkm, North West Cen­tral is the State’s largest elec­torate and cov­ers 32.2 per cent of WA.

Cov­er­ing a more con­ser­va­tive area around Carnar­von and a min­ing area in the north, the seat has nor­mally been mar­ginal and of­ten ig­nores Statewide swing.

WA Na­tion­als leader Bren­don Grylls said Mr Cata­nia had worked hard on his cam­paign.

“He was out putting cor­flutes on the NT/WA bor­der, that is pretty im­pres­sive,” he said. “Vince has a long po­lit­i­cal ca­reer ahead of him and I wish him all the best.”

Pic­tures: Tom Zaun­mayr

Picture: Vince Cata­nia

Na­tion­als North West Cen­tral can­di­date Vince Cata­nia, cen­tre, has claimed vic­tory in the sprawl­ing seat.

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